1823  — 1864

Ferdinand Genähr

Missionary among the Cantonese.

Ferdinand Genähr, a German, was sent out with three others by the Rhenish (Barmen) Mission, arriving in Hong Kong in 1847. Under the direction of Gutzlaff, he learned Chinese and began serving in the Chinese Christian Union, from which he soon distanced himself. Genähr was one of the first Protestant missionaries to live outside treaty ports, dressing in the Chinese style and working freely among the Cantonese in eastern Guangdong (Kwangtung) with Wilhelm Lobscheid. He also worked near the coast in Saiheng, engaging in evangelism, establishing schools and training Chinese evangelists.

Genähr was married to Rudolph Lechler’s sister, Friederike, with whom he had seven children, one of whom died after only six months. During a rebellion, he and his family had been unable to travel to safety, and were found by Lobscheid, “nearly skeletons” (Broomhall, II), saying they had seen rebels crucified. Later, Genähr came to Lobscheid’s rescue in 1856. After the British attacked Canton, Lobscheid fled from Ho’an and after a harrowing journey reached Genähr’s home. Warned of an ambush, Genähr and Lobscheid sailed safely to Hong Kong in a junk loaded with cannons, but Genähr’s house was plundered by Chinese mobs. He and two sons died in 1864 after befriending an impoverished, cholera-stricken Chinese woman.


  • A.J. Broomhall, Hudson Taylor and China’s Open Century: Barbarians at the Gates, 318, 338, 396.
  • A.J. Broomhall, Hudson Taylor and China’s Open Century: Over the Treaty Wall, 26, 163, 190, 386-89.
  • A.J. Broomhall, Hudson Taylor and China’s Open Century: If I Had A Thousand Lives, 237, 359-60.
  • For more details and bibliographic information, see the article on Ferdinand Genahr in the Ricci Roundtable.

About the Author

Laura Mason

Research Assistant, Global China Center.